Liam Killeen (Specialized Racing) and Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) took victory in the final round of the of the 2015/16 British Cycling National Trophy Cyclo-cross Series.
With Ian Field and Hannah Payton having already taken the titles of the Elite men and women’s categories, they both missed the round held in Milton Keynes.
But there was still a competitive edge to all of the races with Killeen continuing his impressive run of form and junior rider Wright taking her first ever elite win.
Newly-crowned National Champion Liam Killeen took another major victory in Milton Keynes by winning the Elite Men’s race after a battle with French Raleigh GAC rider Matthieu Buolo.
Ian Field has dominated the Series and made the title his, allowing him to concentrate on other events.
But this winter, GB Olympian mountain biker Killeen has made cyclo-cross his focus and has started to break the stranglehold that Field has held over the sport in recent times.
After beating Field to win the National Championships last week, the Specialized Racing rider sent another statement of intent here, riding to top spot.
Buolo had to settle for second place and Dave Fletcher of Sherwood Pines was third after a hard fought race with Paul Oldham (Hope Factory) and Nick Craig (Scott Racing).
It was Jack Clarkson (Hope Factory) who led the field up the off-camber bank on the opening lap.
Clarkson, fresh from his third place at the National Championships last week, looked to be in fine form. But before the end of the first lap, it was Billy Harding who took up the lead, with Clarkson slipping back down the field.
With the race settling down, it was Killeen who moved to the front and along with Boulo set the tone of the race.
Ben Sumner (Beeline-Gener8), Fletcher, Nick Barnes (Hargroves-Ridley) and Giles Drake (Leisure Lakes) were having to chase the two leaders down.
The pits were to play their part in the race yet again with both Killeen and Boulo choosing not to take clean bikes and putting more time between themselves.
With the race at half distance the lead changed through the laps, both Killeen and Boulo having to run sections when they couldn’t manage to heave their bike through the mud. The chasers had to endure the same.
Coming into the penultimate lap, Boulo attacked and got a gap on Killeen but the National Champion was soon back with the leader and counter-attacked on the slippery off-camber bank.
Knowing the threat of the Frenchman, Killen dug deep and started to ease a gap which he kept to take the win by 46 seconds. Dave Fletcher got the better of Oldham in the closing minutes to take third by a slender 10 seconds.
Liam Killeen said: “Today was tough, the conditions made it really hard. You could sense it was the National Championship last weekend, there was a lack of motivation among the guys.
“But it was a good race, they put on a good event. I realised I should have wore knee warmers on starting straight of the first lap but it was too late by then!
“I wasn’t aware who the Raleigh rider was, I thought it was Stephen Roach but I could hear people cheering for Matthieu so I knew it was Boulo. He was putting me under pressure on the running sections. But like last week, I felt strong once I was back to peddling.
“The lead changed quite a bit between us but on the last two laps, I just tried to press on and pick the smooth line. Luckily, I got a feel for it.
“The long descent was quite treacherous and on one lap, I had a little slide at bottom. It was quite a lottery do get down there. I’m going to the World Championships and give it my best on the day.”
With the Elite women’s title already wrapped up by Team Kinesis UK’s Hannah Payton, her absence from the starting line gave the other riders a chance to get a National Trophy win under their belt.
It was Renvale RT’s Sophie Wright who took that chance, the first-year junior rider putting in a fantastic ride to take her first Elite win of the series.
Despite only entering her first cross in November last year, the 16-year-old from Norfolk has impressed and adds this victory to her National Championship title.
It was an almost faultless race from Wright here but it was James who set the early pace, the rangy rider heading the field on the opening lap with Emily Wadsworth (Beeline-Gener8) on her wheel.
It looked like the results were going to be totally different to the usual podium but Crumpton was never going to allow the two juniors to get any sort of gap and soon bossed her way to the front to set the pace but both Wadsworth and James responded.
On the first time up the steps, the four leaders were locked together with Charlotte Broughton and Sophie Wright not far behind, it was anyone’s guess who was going to take the day’s spoils.
It was the midway point that saw Wright work through the leaders to join James at the front and they both took off together, getting a gap on Crumpton who in turn got a gap on Pacios-Pajado and Wadsworth who were fighting their own battle.
Delia Beddis (Vicious Velo), fresh from her third in the National Championships, was catching back to the front runners and even though the running suited her, she couldn’t force her way onto the podium.
As the bell rang for the final lap, Wright had rode away from James on the slopes into the finish and with her head down there was no stopping the junior Champion.
James had no answer to the attack and had to settle with second while Crumpton consolidated her losses to take third.
But it was Wright, who had rode the race of her life, who took a thoroughly deserved first Elite race win.
Abergavenny RC’s Ffion James finished in second place and Bethany Crumpton of Boot Out Breast Cancer CC was in third.
Speaking after her win, Sophie Wright said: “It’s amazing to get a first Elite win at the end of the season as a first season junior.
“I got an OK start and then really worked my way up to second towards the end of first lap. With about three laps to go, I thought it was time to attack so I attacked on start-finish line and just put the pressure on.
“I dropped my chain but was close to the pits so just ran there and didn’t panic. I had an off on the last lap but it was quite fun actually, I just went sliding down the hill.
“If it wasn’t for my new team Renvale I wouldn’t even be doing cross. I got into it quite late in November time, so from then entered first my first National Trophy event and won the juniors and came fourth in Elites.
“Then, I won all the other Nationals and won the National Championships and now I’ve won this as well as in the Elites.”
With the junior Series wrapped up by Tom Pidcock (Oldfield-Paul Milnes) in round five, the final round would focus on who would claim the runner-up spot, while newly-crowned National Champion Mark Donovan (Beacon Wheelers) took victory on the day and second place in the Series.
A fast race, it was down to three riders who could take second overall in Donovan, Ben Turner (Oldfield/Paul Milnes) and Harry Yates (Hargroves-Ridley) - and all three set their stall out from the gun.
At the sharp end of the race along with an on-form Will Gascoyne (Pines Cycles-Felt) the quartet dominated the race with the lead swapping around until around the midway point when Turner snapped the elastic and left the trio of Donovan, Gascoyne and Yates to fight it out for the podium.
It was Donovan who attacked Gascoyne on the penultimate lap and had the legs to carry him away for an almost solo final lap to the chequered flag. Yates held on to take third.
Mark Donovan said after the race: “I was in good form, getting the National Championships and now winning this is really good, it shows I deserve the jersey. Hopefully I can keep my good form because I’ve got the World Cup and National Championships coming up.
“It was a really tough race and an interesting one with tough mud from all the water from the snow. There was a fair bit of running, similar conditions to last year.
“It was a course to not take too many risks on, if you do take risks, there’s a chance you’ll fall off with some nasty off-camber corners. You have to be careful. Will Gascoyne pushed me all the way to the line.”
It was all to play for in the Over 40 Vets race. With Series leader Darren Atkins and second-placed Jim Bryan both not taking the start, it was down to Hope Factory Racing’s Rob Jebb to finish the race and secure the Series victory by over a minute from second-placed Ian Taylor (C and N Cycles RT) and team-mate Andy Taylor.
It was the Taylors that took the lead on the opening lap, jumping away from Jebb and a chase group of Keith Murray (Scott Racing), Pete Middleton (Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets), Dan Guest (Performance Cycles) and Rob Thackray (Oldfield-Paul Milnes) amongst others.
But it was Jebb on the third lap that took the lead coming up to the steps back into the arena, a lead he would not relinquish. Ian Taylor won the battle to take second from Andy Taylor and Keith Murray crossed the line a mere two seconds ahead of Pete Middleton.
Jebb said: “I’m pleased with the win and chuffed to win the Series. It’s a fantastic course. I’ve never raced this venue before and it’s brilliant.
“Conditions are tough today, but I was more worried about having pulled my hamstring training in the week so I was trying to ride stuff today that I would normally have run. It has been wetter than normal this year, I think it’s great as it suits my style.”
Tim Gould (Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets) took the win in the Over 50 Veterans race after a gallant fightback to stamp his authority on the Series. With Grant Johnson (Sunset Cycles) finding the going to his liking and scampering away with Richard Cross on the opening lap, it was down to Chris Young (Pedalsport CC), Phil Roach (Team Jewson) and Gould to chase the leader down.
But on the first descent on the steep drop Gould lost a wheel on the mud and slid into the tapes. Watching the race go by, Young and Roach attacked and moved up as National Champion Gould had to work to crawl his way back and by the third lap he was into second behind Johnson.
Young stuck to his wheel, Steve Davies (Hargroves-Ridley) was up with Roach but the chase for the podium places was going to be between the three leaders and it was Gould who attacked on the penultimate lap and left Johnson and Young to fight it out for second and third.
In the Women Veterans race Helen Pattinson (Solent Pirates) took her first victory in the Series and secured second overall whilst Alison Kinloch (PH MAS VCUK) took second and third in the Series. Beacon Wheelers Nicola Davies completed the podium.
Poppy Wildman (Nottingham Clarion) took victory in the Under 16 girls race, her fifth in the Series. It was Megan James (Abergavenny RC) who made the early move, heading up the race on the first lap with Wildman having to chase the Welsh girl down.
Kim Baptista (Nutcracker Racing) found the legs to tag along in third, the position she held to the line and her first podium of the Series. Wildman took the lead on the second lap and although James had the Nottingham girl in her sights all race, Wildman had enough to take the win.
Elspeth Grace (Welwyn Wheelers) finished fifth but it was enough to secure second in the Series whilst Xan Crees (Team Empella CX) took fourth on the day and third overall in the Series.
In the Under 14 girls it was a battle between sisters Maddie and Anna Wadsworth (Beeline Bikes), Maddie having the legs to take the win from Anna. National Champion and series winner Ava Oxley-Szilagyi (PH-MAS VCUK) rolled in third but the overall results was academic, the Series tied up by the fifth round. Maddie took second overall and Anna took third.
The Under 16s race was a three horse race between Toby Barnes (Lichfield City CC), Euan Cameron (Paul Milnes/Bradford Olympic) and Series leader Lewis Askey (RST).
A strong start by Barnes saw him lead the race out with Askey and Charlie Craig (Scott Racing) on his wheel. Cameron was just off the pace along with Callum Macleod (Palmer Park Velo), the pair having the work to do to bring the lead trio back.
As the race settled Askey had taken the lead, Cameron had fought his way back into second and Barnes was holding third, Craig was a few bike lengths adrift but the pits would play their part, taking the chance of missing a clean bike Craig jumped back into the lead group and with two to go Cameron had taken the lead and was away, while Craig was sitting in second with Barnes in close contact.
Askey was having the work to do to make the gap but on the penultimate lap the work paid off as he was back in second, a position he retained until the finish.
Cameron held the lead taking his second win of the Series, Craig took third and Barnes fourth and second place overall in the Series behind Askey.
In the Under 14s Emile Alexander (Lichfield City CC) took his fifth win of the Series. The National Champion proved unbeatable on the tricky course, leaving Leicestershire Road Club’s Alec Gregory to take second and second in the Series. Oliver Stockwell (Welwyn Wheelers) completed the podium and took third overall in the Series.
1 Liam Killeen Specialized Racing 00:59:11
2 Matthieu Boulo Team Raleigh-GAC 00:59:57
3 David Fletcher Pines Cycles - Felt - Enve 01:00:37
4 Paul Oldham Hope Factory Racing 01:00:47
5 Nick Craig SCOTT Racing 01:01:17
6 Giles Drake Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 01:01:33
7 Nicholas Barnes Hargroves Cycles-Ridley RT 01:01:45
8 Jack Clarkson Hope Factory Racing 01:02:22
9 Ben Sumner Beeline-Gener8 01:03:08
10 Tom Van Den Bosch Hargroves Cycles-Ridley RT 01:03:31
1 Sophie Wright Renvale RT 50:08.2
2 Ffion James Abergavenny RC 50:34.0
3 Bethany Crumpton Boot Out Breast Cancer CC 52:11.3
4 Merce Pacios Pujadó Zappi's Racing Team 52:37.3
5 Emily Wadsworth Beeline-Gener8 52:38.0
6 Delia Beddis Vicious Velo 53:57.6
7 Amira Mellor Oldfield/Paul MilnesCycles 54:32.8
8 Charlotte Broughton Mid Shropshire Wheelers 55:10.9
9 Maddi Smith Bolsover & District CC 55:47.3
10 Sophie Thackray Oldfield/Paul MilnesCycles 56:25.8
Junior woman: Sophie Wright (Renvale RT)
1 Mark Donovan Beacon Wheelers 42:26.4
2 William Gascoyne Pines Cycles - Felt - Enve 42:31.1
3 Harry Yates Hargroves Cycles-Ridley RT 42:56.0
4 Ben Turner Oldfield/Paul MilnesCycles 43:33.8
5 Finlay Robertson Derwentside CC 45:01.2
6 Harry Hardcastle VCUK PH-MAS JunCT 45:24.2
7 Christopher Rothwell Ride 24/7 45:24.9
8 David Barnes Team Corley Cycles 45:37.6
9 Joshua Waters SRAM Development 46:05.6
10 Calum Fernie Nottingham Clarion CC 46:31.2
Veteran 40+ men
1 Robert Jebb Hope Factory Racing 00:46:40
2 Ian Taylor C and N Cycles RT 00:47:45
3 Andrew Taylor C and N Cycles RT 00:47:55
4 Keith Murray SCOTT Racing 00:48:05
5 Pete Middleton Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets 00:48:06
6 Daniel Guest Performance Cycles 00:48:42
7 Robert Thackray Oldfield/Paul MilnesCycles 00:50:14
8 Andrew Parry Urban-Cyclery 00:50:23
9 Shaun Aldous Renvale RT 00:50:38
10 Dan Alexander Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets 00:51:03
1 Helen Pattinson Solent Pirates 45:22.1
2 Alison Kinloch PH-MAS VCUK Women's CT 46:22.4
3 Nicola Davies Beacon Wheelers 47:25.0
4 Jackie Field Cycle Club Ashwell 49:47.9
5 Tracey Fletcher Team Empella CX 50:31.9
6 Nicola Hartle PH-MAS VCUK Women's CT 41:40.3
7 Julie Phelan Pro Vision Cycle Clothing 42:01.4
8 Caroline Reuter London Phoenix CC 42:02.1
9 Joanne Newstead X RT / Elmy Cycles 42:12.7
10 Pamela Glover Derwentside CC 44:51.4
Veteran 50+ men
1 Tim Gould Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets 00:49:07
2 Grant Johnson Sunset Cycles 00:49:21
3 Chris Young Pedalsport Cycling Club 00:49:33
4 Steven Davies Hargroves Cycles-Ridley RT 00:51:08
5 Philip Roach Team Jewson-M.I-Polypipe 00:52:02
6 Richard Cross Individual Member 00:52:12
7 Kenny Johnson SCOTT Racing 00:52:29
8 Mick Davies Pedal Power Loughborough 00:53:43
9 Nigel Gregory Leicestershire Road Club 00:53:59
10 Geoff Giddings Team Jewson-M.I-Polypipe 00:54:31
Under 16 boys
1 Euan Cameron Oldfield/Paul MilnesCycles 33:44.0
2 Lewis Askey Lichfield City CC 34:04.6
3 Charlie Craig SCOTT Racing 34:10.7
4 Toby Barnes Lichfield City CC 34:51.5
5 Callum Macleod Palmer Park Velo RT 34:58.7
6 William Raymond Welwyn Wheelers CC 35:44.9
7 Oliver Draffan Derwentside CC 36:00.7
8 Tom Dussek Nottingham Clarion CC 36:07.5
9 Matthew Ellis SRAM Development 36:32.1
10 Jacob Knight Solihull CC 38:06.8
Under 16 girls
1 Poppy Wildman Nottingham Clarion CC 29:45.7
2 Megan James Abergavenny RC 29:53.7
3 Kim Baptista Nutcracker Racing 30:49.0
4 Xan Crees Team Empella CX 31:04.4
5 Elspeth Grace Welwyn Wheelers CC 31:35.4
6 April Tacey Leicestershire Road Club 33:26.4
7 Lucy Naylor Paul Milnes-Bradford Olymp 33:55.4
8 Lauren Higham Welwyn Wheelers CC 35:09.8
9 Cecilia Hime St Ives CC 35:11.4
10 Olivia Bent Border City Wheelers 35:22.8
Under 14 boys
1 Emile Alexander Lichfield City CC 36:51.5
2 Alec Gregory Leicestershire Road Club 37:26.7
3 Oliver Stockwell Welwyn Wheelers CC 37:54.7
4 Matti Egglestone Beacon Wheelers 38:46.2
5 Joshua Giddings Heanor Clarion CC 39:34.1
6 Christian Boon Derby Mercury RC 39:36.6
7 Finlay Pickering Hull Thursday RC 39:51.0
8 Daniel Barnes Lichfield City CC 40:45.1
9 Aidan Lawrence Eastlands Velo 41:35.7
10 Archie Peet Team Milton Keynes 41:41.7
Under 14 girls
1 Maddie Wadsworth Beeline Bicycles RT 31:06.0
2 Anna Wadsworth Beeline Bicycles RT 32:31.8
3 Ava Oxley-Szilagyi PH-MAS VCUK Women's CT 33:23.9
4 Millie Couzens Zappi's Cycling Club 34:04.1
5 Harley Pell Cycle Club Ashwell 34:04.7
6 Amelie Wayte Zepnat RT-Lazer Helmets 34:38.6
7 Josie Nelson MnD Fusion RT/Gearclub 34:52.3
8 Imogen Chastell Welwyn Wheelers CC 34:59.5
9 Sophie Lewis Cycle Club Ashwell 35:10.6
10 Sarah Briggs Matlock CC